Volume 79, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Respiratory infections cause significant mortality in developing countries but are frequently undiagnosed. Reasons for this are unclear. We observed 1,081 outpatient consultations with patients less than five years of age in Tanzania. In 554 patients with cough or difficulty breathing, the absolute percentages examined were 5% for respiratory rate counted, 14% chest exposed, and 25% stethoscope used. Decisions to conduct particular examinations did appear to follow clinical logic, with odds ratios of 4.28 for counting respiratory rate (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.75–10.47), 2.57 for exposing the chest (95% CI = 1.67–3.95), and 18.91 for using a stethoscope (95% CI = 9.52–37.57) in patients with cough or difficulty breathing. Non-clinical variables, including salary level, were also associated with examinations, and history taking was more common among clinicians originating outside the hospital area. Although respiratory examinations are relatively more common in those with cough or difficulty breathing, the absolute rates are low and related to non-clinical and clinical factors.


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  • Received : 16 Jul 2008
  • Accepted : 17 Sep 2008

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